Camera-phones in Walt Disney World

Mickey MouseOne of the things we treasure most after being on a magical Disney vacation is the pictures we take while we’re enjoying all the wonderful experiences Disney has to offer. My favorite pictures are always the unplanned, candid ones that truly capture a moment – the first look at the castle, the first taste of a scrumptious dessert, or the first hug from Mickey Mouse.

There is one thing I see at Walt Disney World that makes me sad though – people using camera-phones for pictures during their special trip.

It’s one thing to take a silly selfie with a character or in some silly pose to post on the internet, but people, please don’t rely on camera-phones for important pictures! Something a lot of people don’t understand about using the cameras that come included on cell-phones, smartphones and tablets is that the pictures they take are really only meant to be viewed on a screen, not printed.

Size – First, lets talk image size. Camera-phones have limited storage capacities, and as such are designed to take smaller images than even an inexpensive point-and-shoot digital camera. Both my iPhone and Sony Cyber-shot digital camera are the same age…but the pictures my camera takes are nearly twice the size of the pictures my iPhone takes. Photos from my camera are 60″ x 45″, and from my iPhone are 36″ x 26.889″. When these images are reduced to print size, the pixels per inch are adjusted according to the amount of reduction. So, the bigger your image is before you reduce it for printing, the better it will look. Using my image sizes for comparison, my camera takes pictures at nearly twice the quality of my iPhone, and it’s just a cheap-o digital.

Lens – Another major difference is in the lens. Digital cameras often combine optical and digital zoom. After a little playing around, you will definitely be able to see the point where the optical zoom (where the lens actually adjusts) changes to digital (faked zoom). The quality found in optical zoom is miles beyond that of digital, and the cameras on mobile devices rely completely on digital zoom. When digital zoom is used, images tend to get very fuzzy and grainy looking.

Sensor – Now, here’s the really important part – sensors. All cameras have sensors that use light in order to create a digital signal. Common sense dictates that the more pixels a sensor has, the better the image, but in this case, size really does matter. The larger the sensor, the more light that can be captured, equaling higher quality photographs (especially in low-light circumstances). Camera-phones simply aren’t able to carry a large sensor simply because the whole goal of the device itself is to be small and compact. Try taking a low-light image with a camera-phone and you’ll see what I mean…it looks like a dust-storm!

Lastly, here are some of the more obvious differences…

  • Battery Life
  • Storage Capacity
  • Shutter Speed
  • Burst Shooting

Also, here’s a side-by-side comparison from my Cyber-shot and iPhone.

Photo Comparison

I did not manipulate these images at all – I simply cropped them and placed them next to each other so you could see the differences. At this size, you can easily see the pixelization you would see from any digital imaging device, but notice the quality of color shifts and the simple number of colors used in the shifts. Also notice the sharpness of the twigs in the nest. Take a look the color – the Sony Cyber-shot is almost identical to reality, while the iPhone made all of the colors cooler. Once you really take a look, the quality difference is quite obvious.

Now for the glaring difference…take a peek at the branch behind the word “shot”. You can see all the little dimples and textures of a wisteria branch. Now look at the other side. Nearly all the detail is missing because the image is just so grainy.

So, for the love of all that is Disney and the magic Walt Disney World brings to our lives…please get yourself a dedicated camera and leave the cell-phones for checking the wait time for Pirates of the Caribbean.